South Florida Resident Charged with Religious Obstruction Offenses in Connection with Mosque Bomb Threats
A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging Dustin Allen Hughes, 26, of Cutler Bay, Florida, with four counts of obstruction of persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs through threatening the use of a dangerous device and explosive, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 247(a)(2) and (d)(3), and four counts of making threats by telephone, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, 844(e).
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
“Everyone has the right to practice their religion and visit places of worship without having to fear for their physical safety,” said United States Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg. “This office, with the assistance of our law enforcement partners, will aggressively defend these rights and prosecute those who commit hate crimes of any kind.”
“Hate crimes are the highest priority of the FBI’s Civil Rights program,” said Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. "Hate crimes have a devastating impact on families and communities and we are committed to thoroughly and vigorously investigating these offenses.”
According to the indictment, between May 2, 2018, and May 5, 2018, Hughes made four separate threats by telephone to Jamaat Ul Muttaqeen Mosque of Pembroke Pines, Florida. According to the indictment, each time, Hughes left a voicemail message containing bomb threats and derogatory language towards Muslims.
If convicted of the charge of obstruction of persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs through threatening the use of a dangerous device and explosive, Hughes faces a statutory maximum term of 20 years in prison. If convicted of the charge of making a threat by telephone, Hughes faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison.
An indictment and criminal complaint merely contain allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Mr. Greenberg commended the outstanding investigative efforts of the FBI and members of the FBI Miami Area Corruption Task Force. He also thanked the Pembroke Pines Police Department, the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the City of Miami Police Department for their assistance. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Davis and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.